One of the main implications of the knowledge economy for individuals in all knowledge sectors will be choosing among the many educational offerings available. There is an opportunity, therefore, for specialist Mediated service suppliers to provide new services, to assist individuals in the tasks necessary for finding, choosing, enrolling, and completing educational courses.
Such organisations could perform comprehensive searches (potentially global searches) of training options available, analysis and (potentially) ranking of training programmes (e.g. in terms of quality and cost), matching of programmes to individual requirements, and services to reduce the administrative overhead for individuals in enrolling and completing their courses. Another area of demand in the new economy will be for funding for education and training. One of the services offered by intermediaries, for instance, could be a specialist finance package to assist individuals pay for their education and training.
In a market where the number and variety of training programmes and qualifications are rapidly increasing, another valuable role for intermediaries is to assist with accreditation of qualifications. Many countries have now developed National Qualifications Frameworks that allow learners to accumulate credits towards achievement of qualifications over time and at their own pace. Learners are assessed against nationally agreed standards. The standards are typically prepared by expert groups in consultation with relevant stakeholders from different learning areas, industries and government. Credits can be accumulated from different educational centres or in the workplace and contribute to a single qualification. Only accredited organisations are able to assess learners’ performance against standards and to award qualifications.
The growth in both volume and diversity of demand for learning suggests major opportunities for both existing and new educational service providers. As education shifts from being teacher to learner driven, cost-effective and flexible access for individuals to learning resources becomes paramount. This means being able to access such resources from home, in the office and while mobile. The United Kingdom Open University remains one of the surprisingly few educational institutions specifically created and equipped technologically to meet this type of learning demand. Technologies to achieve these flexible modes of access and delivery are, however, daily becoming more widely available and cost-effective. Traditional educational institutions can
borrow from the more successful media businesses to deliver training and learning resources that satisfy market needs for flexible low-cost learning.
Likewise, there is an opportunity for the media industry to exploit the learning market as a relatively untapped major business opportunity – at least equal in size to that for ‘infotainment’.